Winter is typically the flu season. But apparently any season is flu season now with this Coronavirus hanging around. I thought they said that warmer weather would be death to this bug. Evidently, this is not the case. The warmth of summer has not slowed this critter down at all. It seems to have encouraged it. This is not one of those Norwegian or Minnesotan strains of flu that likes to weasel its way into small towns under 10 feet of snow. This Covid-19 likes to sit around the BBQ with you on the 4th of July in full sun.
Unfortunately, I suspect that Mr. Corona may have come to visit with me for a spell. It’s the middle of summer and I have had a low-grade fever for five straight days now. For the most part, I did my best to not invite him. I haven’t been perfect. I have tried to be conscientious about my habits. I haven’t touched another human being besides my immediate family but maybe five times since March.
I did the drive-thru test yesterday at CVS. If you haven’t done this, it’s quite exhilarating. I have never had a root canal done, and this was probably not close to that, but similar. First of all, this is a self-administered test. I am not used to doing my own medical procedures or inflicting pain on myself. I wonder if we are headed toward drive-thru surgery; real doctors looking on through glass windows making suggestions.
“Cut just a little more to the right. You really don’t want to slice that main artery, or things could get messy.”
There’s a young kid behind the glass at the drive-up test site. Is he really qualified to coach me through this? Didn’t I just see him stocking Mentos on aisle 12A when I drove up? He’s wearing a mask and I’m wearing a mask, though we are separated by what could be bullet proof glass.
He verifies my ID and places the kit in the teller drawer that slides out and opens up for me. It looks like a Burger King sack. This is not so sophisticated as I thought it might be. For a moment I’m thinking about a cheeseburger with fries. I open the sack and examine the contents. Doogie Houser MD is talking with me through the intercom.
“I’ll help you through this every step of the way, Mr. Chappell.”
He actually sounds sincere and manages to make me feel better about the whole prospect. He explains the two plastic bags inside the brown paper sack. I remove the Q-Tip swab and the collection vile.
“Now, Mr. Chappell, you’re gonna need to place one end of the swab inside your right nostril about an inch. You might feel a little pressure.”
I am obedient and submissive, but evidently not aggressive enough for Dr. Doogie.
“No, further. A little more. That’s good.”
And I am relieved. Any farther up the old canal and I’m pretty sure I could swab off the backside of my right eye and clean up some of those floaters that have been bothering me.
I receive more instructions, which are hard to hear because my eyes are watering and the pressure inside my ears is muffling his words. Did he just say, “swirl it around three times and tie a ribbon to the old oak tree”?
“You’re doing great” he says. “Now hold it right there while I count to 15. One Mississippi. Two Mississippi. Three Mississippi. Four Mississsisssippisssissppiisssippi.”
I kid you not. He did the Mississippi thing and I’m pretty sure he added a few “ssi’s” in there to prolong the agony.
“Okay, Mr. Chappell. You can pull it out.” Tears streaming down my cheeks like I just watched Maverick say good-bye to Goose. “Now, Mr. Chappell, I need you to do the same thing with the left nostril.”
I gave this kid my best Clint Eastwood stare. “Really?”
“Yes sir. We’re almost done.”
For me, the virus (if I have it) has only produced fever and headache. Fever can make a man delirious. In fact, as I write this, I’m keeping one eye on the pull handle on my nightstand beside the bed. I could swear I saw it move a few moments ago. If I squint, it sorta reminds me of the head of one of those worms in the movie, Tremors, with razor sharp teeth that bolt up out of the ground without warning and eat an entire truck stop diner in one bite.
About five years ago I had a fever to beat all fevers I’d ever had. We went to see Tommy Emmanuel at the Variety Playhouse near Little Five Points in Atlanta. It was a great show, but near the end I started feeling not so well. The ride home was awful. The next day I was in the hospital with a white blood cell count that was close to the same number of native Georgians who live in Wisconsin and root for the Packers.
Over the next four days, each time I closed my eyes I saw the same little 10 year old blonde girl holding on to the bed rail next to me and staring at me with big brown eyes. She wouldn’t go away. I got to where I didn’t want to close my eyes. That was one heck of a fever.
You probably know this, but a fever can be a real test of a marriage. Things can get messy. As long as it’s only one half of the partnership that is sick, the other half is obligated to be Christian about the entire thing. The whole “I’m-just-a-humble-servant-of-Jesus” role is put to the test when there is fever involved.
A good marriage needs more than good looks to survive a fever. Some of us are not always attractive enough to keep things going on looks alone. Once a fella gets greasy enough with fever and finds himself all twisted up in the bedsheets sweating like a pig, he realizes that he is not attractive. A fever requires a genuinely kind heart and a whole lot of patience with whiney demands. God bless my wife for having both.
I have no idea what your personal story is with this virus. Some of my friends just buried a friend the other day who passed away from complications with it. I have a couple of friends who are back on their feet again. You may have managed to side-step it altogether so far. I pray for grace and mercy for each and every story.
I only poke fun at myself. I hope you understand that. What I hope for is this. That each of you makes your best effort to prevent the spread of the virus. Enjoy life but be diligent. Because one day, without any indicators, you might be sitting around the table with family enjoying a holiday. And the next, you could be drooling on your pillow dreaming that little people are standing by your bed.
Be careful out there. Stay safe.